Cocaine shipment washes ashore

Drugs with estimated street value of $350,000 wash up on beach

Serious crime squad officers are investigating the source and the intended destination of an estimated $350,000 cocaine shipment that washed ashore in the Cayman Islands. 

A bag containing the 23 packages of compressed cocaine was discovered by residents walking on the beach in East End on Saturday. 

Police suspect the drugs may have been part of a shipment lost by international drug rings that use the Caribbean Sea as a shipping route. They have not ruled out the possibility that the stash was intended for sale in the Cayman Islands. 

The northwest Caribbean area is known for drug trafficking, and it is not unusual for drugs to wash ashore in the Cayman Islands. 

Drug traffickers sometimes use low flying aircraft to evade the attentions of the U.S. Coast Guard by dropping shipments at sea, relying on boats to use satellite phones or GPS to pick them up. 

Detective Superintendent Robert Scotland said there were a number of possible scenarios for how such a large amount of cocaine ended up on an East End beach. 

“It could have resulted from an air-to-sea shipment where certain packages missed the drop zone. It could have been a vessel that overturned,” he said. 

“We have no way of telling how long these items were in the water before they washed up on the beach.” 

He said the package could have drifted from anywhere between here and Cuba, or potentially from east of the Cayman Islands depending on ocean drift and tide patterns. 

He said it was possible that the drugs were intended for the Cayman Islands, but said, “Traditionally we have not seen that level of product destined for Cayman.” 

Police are partnering with authorities in the U.S. to look into the find. 

“We are investigating how it got here and where it was headed. We will look at all angles and approach it from an objective view,” added Mr. Scotland. 

Cocaine shipments typically tend to be heading north from South America, while marijuana is more commonly coming from Jamaica or St. Vincent, according to Detective Scotland. The level of trafficking in and around Cayman’s territorial waters varies depending on which shipping routes are favored by the drug rings as they attempt to evade the attentions of law enforcement. 

Police could not immediately provide statistics on how often drugs wash ashore in the Cayman Islands, but they say it is not uncommon. Typically the packages tend to be marijuana rather than cocaine. 

“This would be one of the larger packages we have seen,” said the detective. 

Anyone who finds drugs washed ashore is advised to hand them into police immediately. Anyone who keeps the drugs could be charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to supply. 

He added, “The concern would not only be from a law enforcement perspective. If the people who had lost the package found out they were in possession of it, they would have personal safety concerns as well.” 

Police released this photograph of the cocaine found on the East End beach on Saturday.